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Warrior Writings

THE HEALER by Mary Church (9-16-07)

Mamasan weeping, carrying her tiny son,
Cries out in her native tongue,
“Take him, doctor, help him!”
And presses the boy into my arms.
The firefight over, I call in Medivac,
“We have one down – yes, it’s an American,
Come quickly, come now!”
Adrenaline has pumped into me the courage to lie.
And then I look down into vacant eyes,
Completely gone, and see
A tiny head half blown away, a small body stilled,
And hear his mother’s pleading voice: “Please, save him, doctor.”
The chopper blades roar through the green smoke,
Beating hot wind upon the grass below,
And then the pilot’s confusion, glancing at the boy,
“Where is the American?”
His anger rising at my deception.  I have been found out.
“Here, you take him,” and in shock I thrust the tiny body
Into the waiting medic’s arms, and push
The native mother into the hovering chopper and I shout,
Now go!” and watch the whirling machine ascend as if to heaven
Later, back at base camp, someone approaches me.
Someone small and tearful, reaching out her arms:  “Thank you, doctor.”
And she offers me her only possession, a small bag of rice,
A gift for her dead child’s rescue.

While he is presently a psychologist working with clients who are veterans of war, back then he was not a doctor, just  a soldier in Vietnam faced with a dilemma:  a Vietnamese mother who believed that all American soldiers were “doctors” and could perform miracles.  Tony had pushed this memory deep into the recesses of his mind until four years ago when it was triggered during a therapy session with a client.  As the client told about his encounter with a child in Vietnam, this memory crashed back into Tony’s awareness, with all the sounds, smells, colors and feelings of the event.  As Tony told me later, it took his full effort to stay present with the therapy client as he relived his own grievous experience with the Vietnamese mother.